Genesis 15: 9-17
So He (God) said to him (Abram), “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
In this passage God is making a covenant with Abram, soon to be known as Abraham. A covenant is a binding agreement or promise and in this instance God uses the shedding of animal’s blood to establish it. I remember when I was 15 years old and I talked my best friend into being “blood brothers”. Either she or I already had an open cut and the other person had to make an open cut so that we could rub our wounds together and then, BAM, we were related. While I clearly would not condone such a practice now, in my 15-year-old mind, this was a way for my friend and I to stay friends forever. Now that I’m more mature, I understand that what I desired was to make a covenant with her.
Different types of covenants are mentioned in the Bible. The very first covenant described, is the covenant God made with Noah. He used the symbol of a rainbow to uphold his covenant to never again flood the earth. One beautiful covenant between friends is the one between Naomi and Ruth.
Ruth 1: 16-17
But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”
Ruth pledged her life to Naomi. She loved her so dearly that she could not be apart from her, even in death. It seems that type of sacred pledge and allegiance is greatly lacking in our society. And how can we be surprised? Our very land was founded on broken covenants. Many of the treaties and covenants between the pilgrims and Native Americans were broken for the sake of power and greed. Promises were not kept and as a result the land was defiled. Today we see a plethora of broken covenants in the divorce rate that plagues our country. 50% of both Christian and Non Christian marriages end in divorce. Could this be due to a lack of understanding what true covenant really is? If the body of Christ does not understand bearing with someone for a lifetime, how can we expect anyone else to? Sadly, the concept of marriage has been watered down by the media and man’s own selfish desire to look out for number one. What God has brought together, let no man bring asunder (Mark 10:9).
I’ve been reflecting on this topic lately, as I know my own struggle with loyalty and faithfulness in the relationships in my own life. There are many God given relationships I have and have had for some time now, however due to past wounds and hurts I know that I do not fully grasp the concept that these are covenant relationships. I’m realizing that the only way families, communities and societies can awaken to the importance of covenant relationships, is for the individual to awaken first. So, I’m asking God to help me in this area. To help me value the covenant relationships He has given me and to fight for them accordingly. Indeed, He has shown us the necessity of fighting for these relationships when He sent His Son to die on the cross for us. He gave us a New Covenant, one in which we could now be called His children. No longer His servants, but now His friends. That is definitely the best covenant of all. But it was costly. The shedding of blood was once again present.
We should expect that even as we walk out these lifelong relationships with others, there will be a price to pay. But of course, it will be worth it.